Parents of US student freed by North Korea say he is in a coma - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Parents of US student freed by North Korea say he is in a coma

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Parents of 22-year old American college student freed by North Korea say he is in a coma.  CNN reports that Otto Warmbier has been in a coma for over a year. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that North Korea released Warmbier, a college student from Cincinnati. He had served about 17-months of a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts.

In a statement, Fred and Cindy Warmbier said, " Otto has left North Korea.  he is on a Medivac flight on his way home.  Sadly, he is in a coma, and we have been told he has been in that condition since March of 2016.  We learned of this only one week ago." 

The statement continues, "We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime in North Korea. We are so grateful that he will finally be with people who live him." 

The 22-year-old Warmbier was sentenced for allegedly for taking down a sign of the dead dictator Kim Jong Il while he was in the country with a tour group.

Tillerson says that Warmbier is on his way back to the U.S. to be re-united with his family, but he did not talk about his condition. He says in a statement that the State Department secured Warmbier's release at the direction of President Donald Trump. Tillerson says the State Department continues discussing three other detained Americans with North Korea.

The announcement comes as former NBA player Dennis Rodman is paying a return visit to North Korea.

The U.S. has no diplomatic relations in North Korea. Foreigners who have been detained or imprisoned in the Hermit Kingdom often have a shared experience: confusion, coached confessions, communication blackouts and isolation.

Warmbier is a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati. His release leaves three U.S. citizens currently known to be held in North Korea: accounting professor Kim Sang Duk, businessman Kim Dong Chul and Kim Hak-Song, who worked at Pyongyang University.

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